Below are a series of articles informing members about PBA activities. Be sure to check back regularly for more updates.

How is PBA Dealing with the Membership Drop?

Membership.

Growing it and keeping it. That’s the biggest challenge in the age of COVID.

Over the past year, local associations across Pennsylvania have seen numbers falling. It’s happening across the country.

According to an analysis of NAHB membership, the national average level of decrease over 2019 rosters is 6.40%. The percentages across the country range from a loss of 64.26% in Rhode Island to an increase of 18.96% in Maine (looks impressive, but that increase brought them to a total of only 116). In fact, there were only four states that posted a membership in the black over 2019. Besides Maine, the others were Hawaii (7.07%), South Dakota (.39%), and Nevada (.25%).

Despite the challenges, Pennsylvania experienced an average loss of 7.30%. Some neighboring states posted higher losses – Delaware (-16.34%), New York (-9.74%), New Jersey (-9.65%). Maryland fared slightly better with a -7.24% loss, following by Ohio (-6.2%) and West Virginia (-3.41%).

The biggest deficits across the board have been at the Associate Member level. Some of which results from budget cuts and layoffs due to the pandemic. COVID has also played a part in the reduced number of Builder Members, but other factors including business closures and retirements have been major factors as well.

So where do we go from here?

In 2020, PBA Membership Chair Cathy Sloan headed a Membership Task Force that polled local associations and developed materials and ideas for local associations.

Each local was asked to complete a workbook of questions about their membership efforts. Everything from identifying potential members, to onboarding, engaging, and preparing these members for future leadership roles was included.

The completed surveys were studied by Task Force members and a Best Practices Retention Booklet was compiled. The booklet offered proven-effective suggestions for communicating with new and potential members, making them feel welcome, establishing ambassadors to cultivate relationships, and how to develop a 30, 60, and 90-day successful membership.

Copies of the booklet were sent to all local executive officers as well as key membership contacts in those locals.

Also developed were customized Power Point presentations for each local that spelled out the benefits of membership. Money-saving perks and rebates, insurance offerings, advocacy contacts, educational opportunities, business development and coaching possibilities were all included in a package that is available for local membership representatives to share.

In addition, the Task Force regularly provides specialized flyers that focus on individual membership benefits – and who they are available to – as selling tools to promote membership.

A study was done to analyze the impact of duplicate membership falloffs. For instance, several companies maintain memberships in multiple local associations. This is especially true if they do business in different parts of the state. The Task Force wanted to determine if some of the falloff was due in part to companies dropping one membership in one or more particular local but keeping a presence in another. It was determined that there was a drop 64 total memberships due to canceled duplications.

A major factor in the loss of memberships is something beyond the locals’ control. We all know that one of the biggest aspects of membership is the invaluable face-to-face networking opportunities. COVID restrictions have taken that away from industries and groups across the globe. Right now, the world is operating a large part of business through ZOOM, Skye, Webex, and other online conferencing tools. This presents challenges like we have never seen before.

Some locals have been able to conduct business – and even events – through these online portals. However, we all know recruitment is best accomplished with a personal touch.

The Membership Task Force will be producing materials and additional ideas to promote the idea of “Supporting the Industry that Supports You” – encouraging members to reach out to colleagues and associates to promote the benefits of membership. It’s an approach that everyone needs to embrace. Share the reasons why you find membership of your local HBA so valuable.

In 2021, the PBA Membership Committee and Task Force will be led by PBA Secretary John Olson of Wayne Pike BIA. John will be assisted by past Membership Chairs and experienced Executive Officers to develop even more ideas and materials to help grow and maintain membership.

Members and locals are invited – and encouraged – to share their ideas. Tell the Membership Committee what you need, what works, and even what doesn’t work.

These strange days are making it more important than ever to stand side by side and work together for a brighter future. (1/29/2021)